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Rental Review: Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

October 17, 2009


By Chad Larson

I am a sucker for superheroes, and I am not too old or too manly to admit that I enjoy animation. Those of you who know me personally know that I have written a graphic novel myself (and am currently looking for an artist, while I’m shamelessly plugging myself here) so comic book related media are always near and dear to my heart.

And what self-respecting comic fan doesn’t love Superman or Batman or some combination of the two?

DC and Marvel, the two largest comic publishers, have both delved into the direct-to-video animation market over the past few years. After the commercial successes of their live action franchises such as Spider-Man, X-Men, and the Batman films, it was apparent the market was there. The thing about these animated films is that they are geared toward older fans, not kids.

This is something that works for them and against them at the same time. Parents who unknowingly pick up Public Enemies for their kids won’t like some of the language and some of the more adult jokes. Nothing R-Rated, but at the same time not something I’d want a young child to watch.

“Public Enemies” starts out with a scenario that’s all too familiar to us – the world’s economy is in shambles, and growing uncertainty allows a very media-friendly Presidential candidate promising change to stroll into office. The difference in the movie universe from ours is that their candidate is none other than Lex Luthor.

Luthor’s first order of business is to make superhuman vigilantes a major focus. It’s stated in the movie that his new laws make things boring, but have stabilized the economy and the world is a “better place.” It’s obvious he’s after Superman from the beginning.

Superman finally admits to meet with Luthor to discuss his policies, only to be met with a trap – Luthor’s bodyguard is actually Metallo, a robot powered by Kryptonite, which is poisonous to Superman. With Batman’s help, Superman kills Metallo – which is just what Luthor wanted. The footage is edited to appear as if Superman initiated the fight as an attack against the President, and a huge reward is put on the person who brings in Superman and Batman. Suddenly the supervillains of the world are coming out of the woodwork to try and bring them down, as they try to clear their name.

A subplot involves a huge meteor made of Kryptonite that’s heading toward Earth, and Luthor uses this knowledge to turn the public on Superman, saying that the meteor’s radiation has made Superman insane.

Now, Marvel comics has always been my main read when it comes to comics but I’m fairly familiar with the DC Universe. And that made the fights in this movie a treat because there are tons of cameos by other DC characters.

There’s also a lot of great inside jokes. Batman comments that if Superman stays for a fight, it’s “his funeral” and Superman snaps back “that already happened!” A reference to his death in comics and in the previous DC direct-to-video film “Superman: Doomsday.”

Another great thing about this film is the voice work. For fans of the 90’s Batman and Superman animated cartoons, it’s great to see Tim Daly return as the voice of Superman and also Kevin Conroy as Batman. Conroy has been the voice of Batman for about 15 years now, and also continues that trend in the video game “Batman: Arkham Asylum,” out now on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. I think the consistent choices of voice actors, even across multiple series and media, help to keep you in the story.

Overall this is a well-done film with a great art style that effectively imitates Ed McGinnis’ art from the Batman/Superman comic book that this story was taken from. The voice acting is top notch and the story is fun and not loaded down with too much exposition.

I’d recommend it for anyone who enjoys comic books or either of the titular heroes.


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